By Amy Nicholson
By Chris Packham
By David Kipen
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Caira LaVelle
By Zachary Wigon
By Scott Foundas
Breaking and Entering
Directed by Benjamin Fingerhut
3 p.m. Sunday, November 21, at the Tivoli
These are the rules of "joggling": You must juggle every step. If a ball is dropped, juggling must resume behind the drop point. Any three objects may be used, as long as they are juggled in a cyclical pattern. Oh yeah, and you have to do all this while running a marathon. Breaking and Entering, a documentary directed by Benjamin Fingerhut, follows the stories of more than a dozen people — including, yes, two jogglers — in pursuit of the glory of holding a Guinness World Record. Fingerhut wisely takes a pass on turning his subjects' goals into a farce, instead highlighting the dedication and level of human achievement they all possess and making this a surprisingly affecting film. Whether the record holder is Boo McAfee, the man who felt hopeless after a divorce and did "the most impossible thing I could think of" (the world's longest drumming marathon), or Ashrita Furman, who holds the world record for holding the most world records (fastest mile traveled on a kangaroo ball, most apples cut in mid-air in a 60-second period with a Samurai sword, fastest mile while rolling an orange with the nose and 98 astonishingly strange others), Breaking and Entering shows not what humans should do, but what we can do, if we put our minds to it. Bring tissues, for moments of both laughter and (seriously) tears.
— Kase Wickman
Casino Jack & The United States of Money
Directed by George Hickenlooper
8 p.m. Thursday November 11 at the Tivoli
Passionate Republican, fervent Orthodox Jew, ruthless wheeler-dealer, super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff at his height fashioned himself into a human ATM machine who lined the pockets of politicians on every side of the aisle. Sooner or later, everybody from Tom DeLay to Patrick Kennedy was at least marginally in his debt. His meteoric rise and fall may seem on its surface to be yesterday's news, but as recounted here by filmmaker Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room), the man's uniquely dramatic career still has much to reveal about how power malfunctions in America. Getting everybody around his subject to open up (Abramoff is still in prison, unavailable for interview), Gibney presents a thorough history and then maps, as per his movie's subtitle, The United States of Money, which made (and makes) such corruption possible. Abramoff fleeced Indian tribes of millions, while affecting to represent their interests; he entangled himself with murderous characters while launching his own fleet of gaming-boats. More chillingly, as Gibney's relentless X-Ray of a movie magnifies in detail, Abramoff leads politicians on junkets that hallow the sweat-shop archipelago that are the Marianas Islands as "a triumph of free enterprise." Gibney makes the case that the U. S. sponsors and protects traffic in slave labor that continues to this day. The blindfold that allows us to tolerate this (if only tacitly, in our ignorance) is the very mad-money ethic for which Abramoff was the ecstatic ambassador, and convenient fall guy.
— F.X. Feeney
Directed by Valdís Óskarsdóttir
In Icelandic, with subtitles
7 p.m. Monday, November 15 and 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 16, at the Hi-Pointe
Two buses full of wedding guests — with the bride, Inga, in one, and the groom, Bardi, in the other — meander through the desolate Icelandic countryside en route to the ceremony. The buses (inevitably) get lost, and Country Wedding dissolves into a wash of well-worn wedding clichés: There are the veiled references to the bachelor party, the fighting bride- and groom-to-be and kooky Grandma who keeps wandering away. But what's most interesting about this film is that the actors worked with a loose script left open to improvisation. At times, the natural back and forth approaches Curb Your Enthusiasm levels, but just as often it falls flat. Maybe something is lost in translation, or maybe it's just all too familiar: Like so many weddings, the film concerns itself with mundane details while the ceremony itself is nothing but an afterthought.
— Kristie McClanahan
Do It Again
Directed by Robert Patton-Spruill
8:15 p.m. Saturday, November 20, at the Tivoli
Boston Globe reporter Geoff Edgers, fast approaching 40, decides that instead of enjoying the usual mid-life crisis, he will reunite the four original Kinks — Peter Quaife, Mick Avory and brothers Dave and Ray Davies — so that they can play together one more time, even if it's only for one song. He claims his mission is spurred by a desire to familiarize a younger audience with one of the world's greatest, most underappreciated bands; during the course of Robert Patton-Spruill's documentary, it becomes clear that Edgers' reasons may also include hiding from the reality of the failing newspaper business and attempting to regain some of the fire he had when he was himself a young musician. Edgers' difficulties in even making contact with Ray Davies to arrange a meeting are juxtaposed with a series of interviews with current musical stars inspired by the Kinks — Sting, Paul Weller, Zooey Deschanel and the members of the Venus 3 — wherein he gauges their interest in seeing a reunion and attempts to play a Kinks' song with each subject. On the day Edgers is informed by his union representative that he'll be receiving a 23 percent pay cut effective immediately, he joins Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey in an achingly raw performance of the Kinks' "Get Back In Line," a song about the Davies' brothers long struggle with the American Federation of Musicians and how it impacted their ability to make a living. Moments like these show the redemptive power of our favorite music and how much we rely on our personal soundtrack to get us through life.
— Paul Friswold
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